Temecula Valley Young Marines receive Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena Award


TEMECULA – The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Young Marines, a national youth organization, announced the Young Marines unit winners of the Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Award, including the Temecula Valley Young Marines, Thursday, May 7, virtually from the Young Marines headquarters in Dumfries, Virginia. 

The winners are Division One – Gettysburg Young Marines in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Division Two – Manassas Young Marines in Manassas, Virginia; Division Three – Parris Island Young Marines in Parris Island, South Carolina; Division Four – Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines in Harvey, Louisiana; Division Five – Miami Valley Young Marines in Huber Heights, Ohio, and Division Six – Temecula Valley Young Marines in Lake Elsinore. 

The award honors six units, one award per division, for drug demand reduction efforts through community education and peer-to-peer role modeling. The awards were announced by Sean Fearns, chief of community outreach with the DEA, at the Young Marines annual Adult Leaders’ Conference. 

“Congratulations to all of the winners of the Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena Division Award,” Uttam Dhillon, acting administrator of the DEA, said. “The Young Marines are true leaders in the community. Thank you for your commitment to educating your peers about the importance of staying drug free. I commend each of you for getting the message out on drug prevention and making a positive impact on your community.”

Young Marine units are judged on drug demand reduction hours, curriculum and the steps taken to reach out to the community to include peers and others. Units can enter pictures, endorsements, proclamations, videos and other items that help demonstrate their drug demand reduction efforts. The best three entries per division are sent to the DEA’s headquarters, and a winner from each division is selected.

“We are extremely proud of our relationship with the DEA, and we congratulate the six outstanding units who won this prestigious award,” Joe Lusignan, drug demand reduction resource officer with the Young Marines, said. “Each year the submissions get more and more creative, with units taking initiative to get out of the classrooms and out into their communities, spreading our message of leading a healthy drug free lifestyle. Minimum effort, or just filling out a form is just not competitive.  These units are on the cutting edge not only of effort, but also enthusiasm and creativity.  Our Young Marines are truly committed to making a difference, and their efforts are being recognized.” 

The award is named in memory of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena who served as a Marine. He was concerned about the drug addiction in the U.S., and in 1974, he became a special agent with the DEA. He worked in Mexico, and he had come dangerously close to exposing the top leaders of a multibillion drug pipeline. He was abducted and brutally murdered in 1985 at the age of 37. 

Camarena received numerous awards while with the DEA, and after his death, he posthumously received the Administrator’s Award of Honor, the highest award given by the organization. In 2004, the Enrique S. Camarena Foundation was established in his memory. 

In addition, National Red Ribbon Week was established in Camarena’s memory. It is time set aside to teach young people to avoid drug use. One of the qualifiers for the award is Young Marines units’ participation in Red Ribbon Week, which takes place each year Oct. 23-31. 

The Young Marines is a national nonprofit youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline, so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. 

Since the Young Marines’ beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 235 units with 8,000 youth and 2,500 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries. 

For more information, visit the official website at https://www.YoungMarines.com.

Submitted by Temecula Valley Young Marines.